Paper: “A Context Metadata Collection and Management Tool for Computational Photography Projects”

Top level interface for the DLN:CaptureContext tool, version 1

This paper, presented by CHI at the Archiving 2017 conference in Riga, Latvia, describes the first module of an advanced set of metadata and knowledge management tools to record a Digital Lab Notebook. Learn more and download the PDF paper.


2016 NCPTT Grant: “Applying Scientific Rigor to Photogrammetric 3D Documentation for Cultural Heritage and Natural Science Materials”

In collaboration with partner consultants and technical advisors, in 2016 CHI was awarded a grant from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) that produces advanced metadata and knowledge management tools to record a “Digital Lab Notebook” (DLN), describing the means and context of 3D photogrammetric data capture. More…

2014 NEH Digital Humanities Start-up Grant

In May 2014, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded CHI a Digital Humanities Start-up grant to evaluate a new metadata and knowledge management methodology. The project envisioned a “digital lab notebook” in the form of a user-friendly toolkit to document not only the algorithmic transformation of photographic data, but also the context in which the photographs were created. More…

White Paper: “Data Sustainability and Advanced Metadata Management for Scientific Imaging”

At the conclusion of the 2014 NEH Start-up grant, CHI produced a white paper describing the outcome of the project: a user-friendly software toolkit that greatly simplifies methods of building a Digital Lab Notebook (DLN), an essential component of digital scientific imaging. Download and read the paper (PDF).

Video Lightning Talk About the 2014 NEH Grant

Watch this brief video of a talk about the 2014 NEH Start-up grant by Carla Schroer, founder and director at CHI, presented at the National Endowment for the Humanities' Office of Digital Humanities in September 2014. You can also view all the talks from this session.

Related Publication

“METS and the CIDOC CRM—A Comparison”

This 2011 technical white paper compares the functional roles of the two standards for metadata encoding and the management of interoperability and information integration in heterogeneous, distributed digital library environments.

Related Tutorial

“Image-Based Empirical Information Acquisition, Scientific Reliability, and Long-Term Digital Preservation for the Natural Sciences and Cultural Heritage”

Presented at the 2008 Eurographics conference, this PDF tutorial, sections 2,7, and 8, discusses topics related to the digital lab notebook and computational photography.

Related Standards

“Sustainability of Digital Formats”: Library of Congress

The US Library of Congress offers guidance on digital preservation factors and formats. CHI and its collaborators strive to meet these standards in the development of the digital lab notebook.


Digital Lab Notebook

Contents:  What is it?  How does it work?  More Information 

What is it?

The digital lab notebook has always been a core project at CHI. Its development is key to the successful implementation of many of the guiding principles of CHI’s technologies.

image from Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks

Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, ca. 1510-1515. Left: Reflection of light in spherical concave mirror.
Right: Paths of light rays in parabolic mirror.

The digital lab notebook serves the same function as a written scientist’s lab notebook before the digital age. This notebook was an integral element of their published results. A “digital lab notebook” associated with a digital representation provides transparency, enabling people to assess its reliability and have confidence they can rely on it for their own research purposes. CHI’s current methodologies, capture, and processing tools are designed to collect all of the information necessary for a scientific lab notebook.

How Does It Work?

The digital lab notebook records how a digital representation is made. The notebook describes the means and circumstances of digital information capture from a “real world” subject and tracks all the events that happen during the processing of this information into a completed digital representation. The digital representation carries the notebook’s information along with it. That way anyone can evaluate the quality of the digital representation by looking in the notebook. New software under development is making the information in the notebook easier to access and search.

More Information

Interested in learning more about the digital lab notebook and its development? Below are links into a more in-depth paper describing the concept, vision, and advantages of this model. Use the links in this Table of Contents to read the subtopics, or you can read them sequentially on the page More About the Digital Lab Notebook.

Table of Contents

Overview: The Digital Lab Notebook
Empirical Provenance: Digital Lab Notebook in Authentic Scholarly and Scientific Imaging
Digital Lab Notebook Architecture
How Knowledge Management Works in the Digital Lab Notebook
“Born Archival” Imaging
CRM-Based Linked Open Data and the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS)
The Digital Lab Notebook in the Long-term Preservation of Digital Material
Advantages of the Digital Lab Notebook